The U.S. military has been embracing laser weapons system and now it appears that another branch of this organization will pick up the technology as well. A new report claims that the United States Navy has plans to equip one of its Arleigh Burke class destroyers with a HELIOS laser defense system. It may deploy the system by 2021.
Rear Admiral Ron Boxall, the Navy’s director of surface warfare, tells Defense News that the branch is planning to deploy the High Energy Laser and Integrated Optical defense and surveillance system on the USS Preble by 2021. This new weapons system will replace the Rolling Airframe Missile system which was designed to intercept and destroy incoming missiles and other threats before they hit the ship.
The Navy has actually been toying with this idea for a fair amount of time. A precursor laser system, the AN/SEQ-3, was being tested as far back as 2013 as a proof of concept against threats posed by drones or boats. That system was later made operational on the USS Ponce from 2014 right up until the ship was decommissioned last year.
The HELIOS defense system can also provide protection against small boats and drones in addition to missiles. It shoots a 60 kilowatt laser which can eventually be ramped up to 150 kilowatts. It taps directly into the ship’s power source and won’t require any additional energy magazines or batteries on the ship. The system has been designed and developed by Lockheed Martin.